More people than ever are finding love online with apps like Tinder, Bumble and Grindr. However, love is not what everyone is trying to find. Sometimes, what people are looking for is someone to help them fulfil their sexual fantasies. Also for some, the perfect life partner must be someone who understands their deepest desires, sexual or otherwise.
Until now, there has not been an app on the market that helps straight people, in particular,* match on what they want in bed.
Waves is a dating app that aims to make it easy for its members to find exactly what they like, and in quite some detail. Created by brothers Emerson Hsieh, 20, and Morris Hsieh, 22, the app is currently one of Y Combinator’s summer batch.
Everyone knows that a dating app can be a quick fix to finding a one night stand, but they are not set up this way. Whether people are using them to find a no-strings-attached hook-up or a committed spouse, the most widely used apps all operate under the innocent guise as a modern means to find love.
Additionally, they do not aid their members in navigating the awkward and taboo topic of unspoken desires.
We might be in 2019, but for some people, bringing up a foot fetish on a first date could still be a little uncomfortable.
Fear of rejection is already a symptom of dating apps. Something that compels people to present themselves in a way that they think is more appealing to others, but, in doing so, the side effect could be that they miss out on matching with someone that is actually right for them.
Waves say that they are a “Tinder-style dating app that promotes sex-positivity and prohibits kink-shaming by only showing potential matches who are comfortable with each other’s bedroom fantasies, preferences, and fetishes.”
To help facilitate this, Waves members must first fill out a detailed section of their profile, allowing the app to aid in matching them with others who have also checked the same preferences.
In choosing those preferences, you can indicate your interested in each one with the following prompts: ‘Yes,’ ‘Hard No,’ and ‘Discuss.’
The number of matching preferences, not the specific preferences themselves, are shown to potential matches, unless the user selects the option that explicitly grants their consent to have their preferences constantly displayed on their profile to every potential match on the app. There are also options that can allow a user to automatically show preferences to a specific match.
“It basically works like this: If you’re into ropes, you put that in Waves, and all your potential matches are also people who are into ropes,” says Emerson in a statement.
A Forbes article reports that, “The Hsieh brothers designed the app with the keeping the psychological safety of the user in mind by giving them control over how their preferences are used and shared with their matches. These preferences act as filters to ensure that users avoid engaging in activities they find uncomfortable.”
Solving a communication issue
Dating apps are so popular, in part because they open up the world to new people who one might otherwise never had the chance to meet. They provide opportunities to communicate with people, which is important as societies begin to report loneliness as an epidemic.
But, what many of them don’t do is help people connect on a more detailed level. When it comes to sex, a significant part of romantic relationships, it can be a difficult topic for partners, both new and old, to discuss sex and communicate what they do and don’t like.
“We’re hoping to create a judgement-free environment for sexual exploration and open discussions around tastes before meeting with matches. Unlike the usual encounter: where the discussion happens in bed – when it’s both too late and embarrassing to bring up.”
Could Waves actually be safer than other apps?
Creating a dating app is not something the brothers always had their sights set on. Emerson Hsieh is a rising junior at the University of California-Berkeley, pursuing a degree in electrical engineering and computer science, and Morris Hsieh is a third-year medical student.
Before Waves, they had their sights set on creating a MedTech startup, but a friend made them see an unmet need in today’s dating apps.
“We started Waves out of problems that our friends faced with online dating. A friend of ours got choked by a guy she met on Tinder and did not enjoy it; filtering out incompatible matches and providing a space to openly talk about bedroom preferences allows us to open the (otherwise embarrassing) conversations early and to set our safety boundaries,” says Emerson.
The Hseih brothers may have chosen the right venture to go into. According to Market Research, the U.S. online dating industry is projected to be $3.2 billion by 2020.
Seeing as their app helps users find a deeper connection where others fail, there is room for them to see success in a highly profitable market.
*To be clear, Grindr, the popular LGBT app, helps its members match on basic sexual preferences.*